The oldest known member of this family is John F. Ruedger.The original spelling of the surname was "Ruediger". However, the military misspelled John F. Ruediger's name when he enlisted in the Civil War. If you look for his records, they misspelled it further; he is listed in the Adjutant General's report as John F. Rendgers.
According to his son, John, J. F. Ruediger was a properous merchant at the outset of the Civil War. While he was in the Cavalry, however, people who owed him money reniged on their loans. He lost his store, and was forced to move to a farm in Ford County, Illinois, which had been put up as collateral by one of the people to whom he'd loaned money.
According to his pension records, he moved from Cook County, Illinios, to Cincinatti, Ohio, before moving to Ford County, Illinois. He is living in Bremen Township in Cook County in the 1860 Census: He is in Ford County in the 1870 Census, which indicates his second son, Frederick, was born in Ohio. Since Frederick was born 18 November 1863, we can conclude that the Ruedger family lived in Ohio at that time.
After the deaths of John and his wife Margaretha, his children were under the guardianship of Jacob Blesch, who was John's brother-in-law. The two owned adjoining farms in Ford County IL. Family lore said that R.L. took care of the children. Frederick died of tuberculosis in 1887, and is buried in the family plot in Lyman Township Cemetery in Ford County. As the other children grew up, they moved away. Emma married Sam Humphrey in 1886, and had at least one son; it is thought she died around 1903, but no records have as yet been found. Henry moved to nearby Iroquois County, where he married and raised a family. He lived there until his death in an accident in 1926. Alexander moved away apparently with hard feelings towards his oldest brother, who did not know where he had gone. We now know Alex moved to Wisconsin, where he married and had a family. He later moved to Iowa, where he and his wife died; his surviving child was placed in an orphanage and later adopted. John was living with his brother Henry in 1900, but soon after traveled to Alaska to take part in the Gold Rush--not as a miner, but as a merchant. He used his profits to buy an alfalfa farm in Washington State, where he lived near Native Americans and learned their ways. He later moved back east, where he had a tree farm near Spooner Wisconsin. In his later years he lived with the family of his nephew Leo Ruedger, who was Henry's son. He died in Decatur Illinois at age 99. Lydia moved first to Chicago, and later lived in Ohio. It is said she married a gentlemen of Chinese descent and that they owned a Ford dealership in Findlay, Ohio, but no definitive information about this has been found. R.L. went to Ohio in the 1930s at the reading of her will, but the exact place and year is not known.
R.L. himself moved from Illinois to Indiana, finally settling in Montcalm County, Michigan. Eleven of his twelve children grew to maturity; all but one married and most had families. These cousins still meet in an annual reunion.
Additional information on the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be added as they are found. For more information on these generations, please go to Ruedger, Foster, and Related Families at WorldConnect.
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